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Lovers of mysteries are in for a treat. Smith has produced an award-winning book that is a joy from start to finish. It will take listeners to Botswana and give them a glimpse into the rich and wonderful life of Mma Ramotswe. Nicknamed "Precious" by her loving father, Mma decides to take the money she receives after his death and open up (drum roll, please!) the Number One Ladies' Detective Agency. Mma is a bright young lady, and even though her first few cases are relatively lightweight, she becomes more and more confident in her chosen profession. Reader Lisette Lecat transports listeners to Botswana with her incredible array of accents; her narration adds immensely to the overall appeal of this delightfully different novel that belongs in every public library collection. Mma Ramotswe is a character whom we definitely want to meet again.-Joseph L. Carlson, Allan Hancock Coll., Lompoc, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

The African-born author of more than 50 books, from children's stories (The Perfect Hamburger) to scholarly works (Forensic Aspects of Sleep), turns his talents to detection in this artful, pleasing novel about Mma (aka Precious) Ramotswe, Botswana's one and only lady private detective. A series of vignettes linked to the establishment and growth of Mma Ramotswe's "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" serve not only to entertain but to explore conditions in Botswana in a way that is both penetrating and light thanks to Smith's deft touch. Mma Ramotswe's cases come slowly and hesitantly at first: women who suspect their husbands are cheating on them; a father worried that his daughter is sneaking off to see a boy; a missing child who may have been killed by witchdoctors to make medicine; a doctor who sometimes seems highly competent and sometimes seems to know almost nothing about medicine. The desultory pace is fine, since she has only a detective manual, the frequently cited example of Agatha Christie and her instincts to guide her. Mma Ramotswe's love of Africa, her wisdom and humor, shine through these pages as she shines her own light on the problems that vex her clients. Images of this large woman driving her tiny white van or sharing a cup of bush tea with a friend or client while working a case linger pleasantly. General audiences will welcome this little gem of a book just as much if not more than mystery readers. (Aug. 27) FYI: Anchor is simultaneously issuing two other titles in this series, Tears of the Giraffe and Morality for Beautiful Girls. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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